Erie County government is saying ‘enough is enough’. The County Executive’s Office is taking legal action to put a stop to the opioid epidemic.
The Erie County Executive, Kathy Dahlkemper, says the devastation of the opioid epidemic has influenced local families in more ways than one. She tells us the county wants money in return for the resources it’s putting towards treating this crisis.
The opioid epidemic continues to claim more lives across the country and right here in Erie County.
Wayne Jones of St. Vincent Health Center says, “We see issues with opioid addiction every day, whether it’s the accidental overdose, the intentional overdose, or people who have secondary health issues trying to recover from those narcotics.”
And, local leaders say someone needs to pay; literally.
Erie County has filed a civil lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers and distributors. The county claims these corporations have unfairly marketed and distributed drugs with knowledge of their dangerous and addictive potential.
Dahlkemper says, “The amount of opioids being prescribed and used in our community is higher than the national average and so we believe these companies have a stake in helping us care for those who are currently addicted. “
She also says county government is at the center of the opioid epidemic. She says her office is following other communities that have already taken legal action. “I think you have to hold those responsible who’ve created this devastation. People have lost their lives. The community has been devastated in many ways and people struggle today. What we want to do is stop the pipeline.”
The county’s suit is targeting major corporations like Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma. Dahlkemper tells us their practice is a costly and deadly combination.
The County Executive believes these distributors are violating the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. She tells us they’re modeling this suit after one filed several decades ago aimed at cigarette companies for falsely advertising their products.